tv BBC Newsnight PBS March 12, 2011 5:00am-5:30am EST
>> union bank has put its global financial strength to work for a wide range of companies. what can we do for you? >> and now bbc "newsnight." >> fierce fighting in libya. the military balance appears to be shifting in gaddafi's favor. but how will they on the opposition? we will hear from the republican presidential contender john mccain and ask a link was, oliver, and political activist if the west should invade. >> it is very doubtful. i do not think so. there is a long way before the question arises. >> as congress begins hearings into the radicalization of american muslims, we ask if this is a 21st century wish. >> to back down would be an ad dictation of what i believe to be the main responsibility to protect america from a terrorist
attack. >> hello. as fighting intensifies on the crown, so does an international debate on military options in libya, which could include a no- fly zone. amid growing concern about the bombing of rebel-held areas by gaddafi's forces, there are voices in the u.s. and europe calling for the rebels to be armed to directly. it sounds simple, but history offers plenty of cautionary tales. in a moment, we will hear whether senator john mccain thinks it is a good idea. >> what i am calling for is a greater access for the libyan opposition forces for weaponry. >> there is no guarantee that by helping these people, you necessarily bring about a more democratic outcome or more desirable outcome. >> the question is, what kind of arms with a supply? whom would supply them?
britain session -- britain's special forces may have suffered a setback last week in libya. but the momentum is still building in the west for military intervention of some kind, including perhaps arm the rebels. in libya, repeated bombing by government warplanes around the rebel-held oil town of ras lanuf marks colonel gaddafi's drive in his country. opposition forces are determined, but still lack a clear organization or command structure. the worst violence was reported near tripoli in zarwiya. s attacks with artillery and tanks leaving many casualties, including children. the government is prompting ever more calls for outside intervention. >> what i am calling for is greater access for the libyan opposition forces to modern weaponry.
unless that modern weaponry is forthcoming quickly, it is likely that we will seek the death toll in libya if the opposition forces in greece, and we will see women and children die as well. >> aside from the humanitarian impulse to save lives, there is also mounting concern in the west that without outside intervention, the libyan revolution may ultimately be crushed. that would mean losing a historic chance to do -- to rid the world of one of its most dangerous and unpredictable dictators. sending in troops would be military difficult and politically almost impossible. a no-fly zone is being considered, but it may not be practical or enough. that is why the idea of military aid is getting ground. and the west has done plenty of experience, both open and covert, of our main rivals. in 1999 in the balkans, the ethnic albanian cause of a liberation army received training, intelligence, and its
alleged, arms from america in addition to the support provided by nato bombing raids on serbia. meanwhile in afghanistan, the mujahedin and northern alliance fighting the taliban received substantial support from the cia and the pentagon. >> the afghan model of war fighting was a very informative lesson for the u.s. defense bureaucracy, particularly donald rumsfeld. it involved small groups of american special forces embedded with rebels on the ground under the cover of air strikes and using american firepower, intelligence, and coordination to assist the rebels without necessarily committing large numbers of american troops. so there is a constituency within the pentagon for that sort of war fighting. that now could you provide. -- that could be revived. sas was active 69
years ago in libya. they're part of the operation had to be aborted when their presence was discovered early on after a clash at a roadblock. in eastern libya now, it is a local rebels, not outside powers, who are calling the shots. they determined to keep it that way. >> the risks of western military aid are obvious. one, the rebels themselves are very aware of the fact that it would enable colonel gaddafi to portray the opposition as an agent of foreign powers. another is of some surprise, particularly small arms could easily fall into the wrong hands and be sold onto anti-western militant groups in africa and beyond. in any case, ammunition is sending the rebels are not short of. these have fallen into their hands. but they need more of other things, particularly communications equipment.
first of all, radius would help them organize the kind of defense week see with small disorganize units because again, we're looking at anti-tank weapons to basically stop the rebels. it would assist rebels in stubbing gaddafi's armor units, which are far more sophisticated than with the rebels of. third, we're looking at anti- aircraft weaponry. >> president obama agreed with david cameron to plan on what they call a full spectrum of possible responses, including a no-fly zone. but there was no specific mention afterwards of arming rebels. that is still a controversial idea. >> we do not know a lot about the opposition in libya. different tribes and different individuals. there is no guarantee that by helping these people, you necessarily bring about a more democratic outcome or a more desirable outcome. >> it is our uprising, the libyan rebels insist. but their fierce arguments in
benghazi about what to accept. equally fierce arguments about what helped to give outside. >> my colleague spoke to the former u.s. presidential candidate, senator john mccain, and asked whether the international community was just going to stand idly by while colonel gaddafi killed his people. >> well, i hope not. i appreciate the leadership that prime minister cameron has shown and also president sarkozy. unfortunately here in the united states, it seems we are sounding an uncertain trumpet. >> so what do you the we should do? >> obviously, the first step would be in no-fly zone. i would like to add a couple comments about that if i could. the air power of gaddafi's confined to a relatively small space. four airfare old -- four air fields around tripoli.
it is not as if you have to cover the entire country. psychologically, if you tell libyan pilots that if they fly sooner or later they're going to die, they're not going to fly. obviously, the massacres or killings that are taken place from the air is not only killing innocent people, but it changes the battle field equations, giving the libyans an advantage that they otherwise would not have. finally, if gaddafi is insane enough to bomb the oil facilities, you could have an environmental disaster of a very large consequences. >> but you well know that the defense secretary said you declared a no-fly zone, the first thing you would have to do would be to take out libya's air defenses. that inevitably escalate the conflict. >> first, i am not sure how efficient the air defenses are there. >> you want to take the risk? >> well, yes, indeed. look, people are being
massacred. isn't it an obligation that the world has to stop a mad dictator from massacring his own people? and if we do not have the military capability to take on their air defenses and their air force, then we have wasted a great deal of american treasure. we can handle the libyan air force and their libyan air defenses. i know we can. >> but why stop then ed simply a no-fly zone? why not arm the rebels? >> well, i think you should consider getting weapons to them as one of all the options on the table. >> but the u.n. arms in cargo -- >> actually, the u.n. arms embargo applies only to the libyans. that is my interpretation of it. and i would say again, it isn't it is our obligation, if we can come to stop the slaughter of innocent people?
it seems to me that it is, and the world has acted in the past. sometimes they have not acted, as in the case of rwanda. you'll find a lot of brutality has already been done by kibaki and his thugs. >> why not send in ground troops? >> sending in ground troops of the counterproductive. i would plan on humanitarian assistance. there's a huge humanitarian crisis unfolding already. we could provide them with technical assistance in a lot of other ways. but moral support is very important. they are pleading with us to enact an no-fly zone. >> how would you go about arming the rebels? >> well, i do not know exactly how. that is one of the options. one of the ways i think would be the way we did in charlie wilson's war in afghanistan. that was we could get weapons
into them. but the main thing right now, all those options have to be explored. the thing that has to be done right now is the no-fly zone enacted. because right now, the people being killed and massacred our innocent people. >> center, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> the spectacle of a dictator using tanks, rockets, and aircraft against people demanding freedom poses a challenge for many. but for those on the left have accused western governments for years of being happy for the sick of boreal in israel, the issue is especially charge. in a moment, we will hear from noam chomsky. first, here is paul mason. >> their revolutions in north africa and the middle east and shattered the theory of a passive era of world would dictatorship and enthralled to political islam. but it is a challenge, too, for the world view of the left. after 9/11, with the afghan war
and the invasion of iraq, the world to the left became polarized between america and its enemies. noam chomsky, the professor of linguistics who became the global intellectual figure head of the left, saw america itself as a terrorist. america, he described, as a totalitarian state. noam chomsky is jewish and said israel's invasion of gaza was not only criminal -- criminal but polish descent, the systematic murder of a nation did all this prompted the english writer to acse noam chomsky of eggs of the moral equivalence between the actions of the u.s.a. and of al qaeda. for the best part of 20 years, the left's narrative on the middle is has been dominated by imperialism and anti- imperialism. noam chomsky recently predicted that in pursuit of oil, the u.s. and its allies will pull out the
stops to prevent any really functioning democracy from developing in the arab world. but with the risings in egypt and tunisia, a new force blew into history. secular young people, many of them western-educated, who did not seem to hate america. and this, too, has it -- has been the test of a new kind of american diplomacy. under obama, the u.s.a. has restrained from the military is in the situation and exercised soft power to speedy exit of men like mubarak. noam chomsky died the modern linguistics, claim to the media had become a machine for many -- , an expert in moderate line questions, claimed that it was a machine. this is the sort of impact of social media. the consent machine breakdown. and it has been a shaky in america, with 100,000 on the streets of madison, wisconsin and the defense of human rights.
noam chomsky describes himself as an anarchist or libertarian socialist. in that, he embodies the ideas that have become dominant on the left with the demise of leninism. now, from the square to madison wisconsin, that -- from tahrir square 2 madison wisconsin, once you mobilize people power, what do you do with it? >> well, he spoke to professor noam chomsky and asked what he thought about the site of thousands of demonstrators in egypt and the protests in libya. >> it is wonderful. i do not have a lot of problems. notice that it has been a remarkable achievement so far. but the regimes are intact. there have been name changes but no significant socioeconomic political changes. but they may come. >> you talk about the demonstrating against regimes which enjoyed the backing of the
west. isn't it characteristic of these demonstrations at the west is by and large backed the demonstrators against the dictators? >> certainly not. in fact, what has happened is following a standard game plan, which has been used over and over. in the philippines and haiti, south korea, and indonesia. there comes a point when you cannot support your favorite dictator any longer. the same thing happens every time. it is happening here, too. support them as long as possible. when the jet engine that -- maybe the army turns against them or whatever. come out with ringing declarations about your love of democracy and how you are on the side of the people. then try and preserve the regime. >> so you think the immediate response should have been to withdraw support for the a
administration in egypt. >> not quite. i think that response should have taken place a long time ago. remember, these demonstrations are bursting out now. but they have been going on for a long time. for example, in egypt, there have been very extensive and significant labor struggles for years. the january 25 movement was led by the upper right -- you know, the uprisings, run by a group called the april 6 group. those are the tech savvy young people. april 6 is a significant day. that was the date of a major strike and support action at the textile industries, which was broken up by force. that was a couple years ago. >> do you find it striking that what many of these demonstrators appear to want is the sort of freedoms, western
freedoms, that you have often said are rather illusory? >> they are illusory if you let them be. what is happening in madison, wisconsin is very relevant. right in the middle of the protests, one of the most dramatic moments a couple of weeks ago in a protest was win a well-known labor leader in egypt sent a message to madison, wisconsin saying the people, the workers of egypt, support the workers of madison and their struggle. in madison, they are trying to preserve aspects of democracy. they are under serious attack. in egypt, they are trying to gain the rights that have been denied them. the trip back -- the trajectories are crossing the going in opposite directions. >> do you think the west should go as far as army the dissidents in libya or egypt? >> egypt, it does not even arise
in egypt. so of course not. >> what about libya? >> again, libya is a special case. libya is a civil war. should the west intervened militarily? it is very doubtful. i do not think so. there is a long way before that question even arises. first of all, the people do not want it. remember, the west is hated for good reasons. take libya. eastern libya, which was pretty much just liberated, that is the site of the first post world war one major genocide. italy, in that case. we may not remember it. they do. and there's a long history since would england and france. for the powerful, they have history. the victims do not have that luxury. >> so what do we do, just do
nothing? >> we're not asking to do anything. most have been asked to stay away. just read what has been said. mostly stay away. you have enough blood on your hands already. what tothe question of do, and that is not up to us. we're not the only ones in the world. brazil, for example, is a respected country. so is a turkey. >> professor, thank you. >> a u.s. congressman has begun hearings the capitol hill to the extent of radicalization among american muslims. congressman peter king believes during american citizens to commit a tax is part of al qaeda's strategy. he encourages what is called moderate leadership of his critics say he is presiding over a witch hunt. life for america's muslim changed dramatically after the events of 9/11.
from the debris rose a climate of fear. this critical voices grew when plans to build an islamic center in moscow close to ground zero were announced. angry demonstrators felt it in seoul that the memories of those who died in the twin towers -- those angry demonstrators felt it insulted the memories of those who died in the twin towers. but the group says the lack of tolerance will isolate them within american society. the debate moved away from ground zero and not to capitol hill. the new york congressman peter king, a republican and chairman of the homeland security committee, has initiated hearings on radicalization among american muslims. peter keane has defended his 21st century hearings and dismissed criticism that they could fuel anti-islamic sentiments. >> let me make it clear today that i remain convinced that these hearings must go forward,
and they will. to back down would be an abdication of what i believe to be the main responsibility of this committee to protect america from a terrorist attack. >> it is the subject that has been discussed before on capitol hill. but the congressman is particularly outspoken. he once said that 80% to 85% of mosques in the u.s. are controlled by radical a moms. he has since dismissed those comments as inconsequential but does believe there is an inordinate amount of radical influence in mosques. >> the investigation is not a judicial hearing. >> for some, all this brings uncomfortable memories of the 1950's and senator mccarthy's congressional activities in pursuit of alleged communists and un-american behavior. but almost 10 years after the terrorist attacks, america's wounds still appear to randy.
some say these hearings will be nothing to heal them. >> i was joined from washington, d.c., by president of the american islamic forum for democracy. he was a member of the panel of the congressional hearing. in sentences go, the president and executive director of muslim advocates. doctor, why did you choose to report a process that so many of your fellow american muslims think is deplorable? >> i do not know if you really old american muslims to make that statement, but i would say it was an opportunity for us to show america and to be part of the solution. there has not been a platform to discuss how we need to do the hard work. radicalization has not been defined correctly. we define it as a last step up violence. there is a process of radicalization. did not become radical overnight. one went to a mosque and did internal edition. he was at three or four
different mosques between -- before he radicalized. we need to treat the problem. we're not doing that. the hearings are first discussion to do that. >> do you see this as an opportunity? >> let me first say that i think america is at its best when we come together as one people, one nation. i think as you alluded to earlier, over the last several months in the u.s., there has been a troubling increase in anti-muslim rhetoric by public officials to score political points. unfortunately, i think mr. king takes the politics of fear and fear mongering to hold new levels by giving it a congressional stamp of approval. this is deeply disturbing. to quote the top law-enforcement official in the u.s., just yesterday he said, we need to be focused on individuals, not communities. i think what was disturbing is that we did not hear from
serious counter-terrorism experts with one exception, one who was invited by the minority side. >> the congressman is a controversial figure, someone who said that up to 85% of imams in the u.s. are radical. >> that is not a percentage i have used. i do believe there is is again problem with ideology. >> but do you disagree with him using it then? >> i think -- yes, i do. and i think he walked back on that figure. he did not come up with that. it was in senate testimony in the judiciary committee in 2003. it has more to do it connection of saudi funding of mosques and looking at ideology. i love my faith, and is only a muslim. i want to see a platform to help repair the things that cause radicalization when we put labels on mccarthyism and we take a common -- the congressman as the chairman of the committee, but again, he is one of the members.
this is the people's house. we should be able to take a problem and be able to talk about it and not have all the histrionics and hyperbole. if you look at the substance of the proceedings, it was all about how to help muslims figure how to solve the ideological radicalization. 220 arrests, over 180 were muslims. >> professor, i was living in america soon after 9/11. i was always very struck by the fact that there were positive about how american muslims were proud to call themselves american in the way you did not here in britain. in the process, is there a danger that you lose something that is precious and is hard to get back? >> i cannot tell you how important what you just said is. to me, the way to maintain that -- because the negativity toward islam has been doubling. the vitriol is causing that to be more concerning. the reason the negativity is increasing is america has not seen as sticking to core problems, the root cause, which
are believed is islamism, as prime minister cameron spoke about two or three weeks ago worries that multiculturalism is creating an obstacle to the ideas of change. to identify muslims with our nations, either in britain or america. >> thank you for joining us. that is all for this week. from all of us, goodbye. ♪ >> funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. and union bank. ♪